Too many people go on fad diets or crazy fitness trends to lose weight quickly, only to realize that these changes are never long lasting. Believe me, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. Learn from my mistakes and let me help you! I am passionate about bringing you healthy lifestyle ideas for every day. Let’s explore your health together. Let me explain underlying causes to you, so you understand your body better rather than beating yourself up over results you are not seeing. The principles I teach in my nutrition coaching and fitness sessions can be used anywhere you live, for your whole family and friends for the rest of your life. These are science backed changes based on how you are already eating, exercising, and living.
Hi, my name is Martina, and I am a chocoholic, a wife, a mom to Baby Zand and puppy Haigo, a lover of all things sparkly, a holistic nutritionist and health coach, a fitness trainer, a world traveller, an avid reader, and a friend, here to help you live with more energy, so you can go out into the world and make shit happen.
That’s it, now you know everything about me. If you want to know my whole life story, then keep reading. Otherwise click though to the good stuff (recipes, exercise videos, my favorite books, and so much more).
My whole life story
I was born in Berlin, Germany on a hot May Day after my mother stuffed her face with a whole lot of grandma’s cake. Hello my love for cake! From the moment I was on this planet, I was not meant to stay in one place. My parents moved to New York, and then later to Asia, which shaped me to be a world traveller, never truly home in one place, always looking for the next adventure. I grew up in Taipei and Hong Kong, attending German speaking schools because my parents always thought they would return to Germany in a couple of years. It’s been 26 years, and I think it is safe to say they are never going back!
To truly understand what I do today, and how that happened, you have to meet my mom, my role model and true trail blazer. She cooked us whole grains in the 80s when it was not hip to have brown rice bowls while sipping on kombucha. She studied in the traditional medical field to become a medical assistant (kinda like a nurse to the rest of the world). Once we lived in Asia, she embraced Traditional Chinese Medicine, learned Aromatherapy, became a Body Talk Practitioner, and we became her guinea pigs. "Oh you have a headache? Dab some of this peppermint oil on your neck!" "You don’t have enough energy to study? Let’s give you some acupuncture needles to get your chi flowing again." I mean, the list is endless of things she tried out on us. In the moment, I was so embarrassed, and always wondered why she couldn’t just give me a pill like “normal” parents. Today, I am so grateful that she opened my eyes to not just one modality of healing, but endless possibilities to help the body heal itself.
The constant student
Once I graduated high school, I decided I wanted to go see what it was like to live in Germany (spoiler alert: I didn’t enjoy it!). I chose to go to Kiel University, the furthest north you can pretty much go until you hit Denmark (but sad fact: I never went across to Denmark!!!!). Since I was a dancer for all of my childhood, food was a big part of my life. It was fuel to keep me going for hours of intense physical practice, and I didn’t see it as the “bad” thing that everyone else kept talking about when they tried out new diets. I knew I wanted to help people, so studying nutrition and food science was the logical step for me. During my time at university I suffered from binge eating disorder, something I have written about extensively here. What an irony: here I am studying nutrition, but I couldn’t stop myself from bingeing in the middle of the night when I felt so lonely and lost. While I will always appreciate the scientific knowledge I gained from studying nutrition, I did not enjoy the standardized food guidelines every nutritionist was supposed to give based on the traditional food pyramid. I was trying so hard to stick to the appointed calories for my body, I ate the right amount of carbs, protein, and fat, and yet I had bad skin breakouts, was on an emotional rollercoaster, had the worst PMS every month, felt anxious, always hungry, and had insane sugar cravings. Clearly there was more to nutrition than just following some government guidelines?
I started to look further, dug into more research on hormones, anatomy, the brain, food production and politics, and I realized that other life choices reflect in how we feel in our body: what our relationships are like, how we like our job, how much time we spend in fresh air, how well we sleep, and so much more. I studied to become a holistic health coach, taking more into consideration than just the food on our plate. I added Reiki, studied Herbalism, learned everything I could about Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. And I added another dimension: movement. When you work in nutrition, 90% of people see you because they want to lose weight. And moving your body is such a critical component of this. I became a Personal Trainer, added Pilates and Yoga, taught every fitness class under the sun, worked with professional athletes, women in their pre- and post-natal stages, and helped with injury recovery.
Twists and turns
After a lot of years traveling and working, I settled down in Shanghai, China in 2011 where I opened a wellness company for foreigners living there. Alive Shanghai was my baby, and I had the pleasure to work with an exceptional team of women, who to this day still influence my work. We ran fitness classes, personal training, nutrition coaching, and cooking classes. In Shanghai I also met my husband Arman, who is often featured on this blog as my guinea pig, and our daughter was born there.
This is where the story takes a sharp turn! Baby Zand was born with medical problems, we packed up our lives, sold our companies and all of our belongings, and moved all the way across the world to Berkeley in glorious California. Never in a million years did I think I would ever live in the USA again, but here we are.
About 6 months postpartum I started to collapse. My blood pressure went so low that I was dizzy as soon as I woke up. I had no energy to get out of bed to tend to my crying child in the middle of the night, I felt like every day I was just dragging myself through the day to make it to bedtime. After months of uprooting our lives, house hunting in the Bay Area (pretty much an impossible task!), nursing on demand, and getting used to a new culture, I had burned myself out. I was suffering from post-natal depletion, a deep lying exhaustion moms experience when the postpartum recovery wasn't used to truly recover.
Empowered by everything I knew, I got myself up and started caring for myself by cooking the most nutritious meals, supplementing where I needed to, prioritizing me-time every day, and after about 18 months I finally felt like I was back to myself.
It’s been over 2 years since we moved here, and I finally feel at home. I have energy to jump out of bed in the morning. Baby Zand is thriving, and I am starting to think about what I will do now. Slowly, I have started to run some workshops last year, taken on a handful of clients (who have all been super amazing while I drag Baby Zand around with me), I am working on more ebooks, and helping new moms all around the Bay Area get their energy back. Maybe you are next? How can I help you?
But why a blog in a world filled with bloggers?
I was extremely lucky to call Asia my home for almost two decades. Living and working in big, polluted cities brought with it a whole new set of health related problems: what if you don’t have access to organic anything? Spinning in the dark with candles is unheard of, how can I still stay fit? How do you drown out the constant noise to find some kind of balance in your life? Most of my quest of this blog and my work there was to find ways to make a healthy lifestyle easily accessible to anyone. When I would travel and bring back healthy cookbooks, it always frustrated me that a lot of the ingredients were very specific and absolutely no where in sight for me. Making things from scratch (like my favorite pantry staple vanilla extract) was my mission and still is. Just because I live in the country of Whole Foods, abundant farmer’s markets, and ubiquitous fitness trends now, doesn’t mean I have forgotten about my roots. I think most of us can benefit from making things from scratch more often, and going back to the basics - be this in food or in exercise.
On the blog I share these tips with you, as well as my own path of learning about health and well being. I am constantly learning and updating my own knowledge, so that I can bring you the best information out there. And if you are on Instagram, hop on over and check out the daily health tips I give in the Insta Stories - little tips and tricks to make you feel a little more healthy and alive every day.
I would love to hear from you! Is there something you would like to know more about in terms of a special ingredient, a health problem I can help you with or an injury you just don't know how to shake? You can always write to me or leave comments on the blog posts. And if you are keen to work one-on-one with me, then send me a love note.
Wait, don't go yet!
I hope this satisfied your curiosity around who I am, what I do, and how I came to be here. Make sure to check out some delicious recipes before you leave - especially if you are a fellow chocoholic :-) (want some epic chocolate coconut cups, chocolate peanut butter balls or an entire chocolate raspberry cake?)